As a younger person, a "millennial," there are lots of things we should care about (they told me the cutoff was 29 but I’m going to sneak myself into the group). Climate change, renewable energy sources, expansion into space – the list goes on and on. So many different things to worry over, problems to confront; I’ve got to be honest, it looks a little overwhelming.
So why should we care about Proposition 8 and same-sex rights? Well, it’s because it highlights an underlying problem with our society, and more importantly, our species.
That problem is a lack of empathy. Societies and cultures that refuse to grant freedom to all of their citizens – their people – are societies doomed to tear themselves apart through in-fighting and division. You see, the idea behind Proposition 8 is a pernicious one, one that resonates throughout history. It’s the idea that you can control how someone else lives their life.
It’s the idea that you can make someone else your slave.
For this generation, the fight against that idea is for same-sex rights, for letting people live their lives free of bigotry and oppression. For previous generations, the fights were against segregation, suffrage, and slavery itself, and we’re still fighting a lot of those battles today.
We have to fight those battles though, because with persistent social inequities comes division, confrontation, and inevitably, collapse. Rome. Byzantium. Imperial Japan. World War Two Germany, Italy, and Spain. All societies that end up preaching exclusion, intolerance, hate are societies that have ultimately failed, brought down by the weight of their own in-fighting – the rebellion of those mistreated for too long.
How can we help bring these battles to an end?
It’s very simple. Talk to people. Have conversations with them. Walk a mile in their shoes. Empathize with the minority, the downtrodden, the mistreated (because you never know when it might be your turn, and boy wouldn’t some help be nice). Don’t stay silent when you see someone call somebody else a “fag,” or a “queer,” or a “homo,” or any of the countless other epithets lazy, hateful people use when they insist on treating someone as an object instead of a human being. Care about different points of views, different ways of living free – understanding that without freedom for all, without empathy, we're doomed to keep fighting these same stupid battles over and over again.
So, I ask you, please care about Proposition 8, and the narrow-minded shortsightedness it espouses. Please care about same-sex rights, the ability to love who you want instead of who someone else says you should. Please care about everyone’s right to live a happy life free of someone else’s yoke, because if we allow ourselves to become exclusive instead of inclusive, well, I can tell you how that turns out.
The history books are littered with their bones.